By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 9, 2014 – Coalition military and civilian members who served in Afghanistan can hold their heads high as the combat mission in the country ends at the end of the month, Army Gen. John Campbell, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said here today.
“What they did here for the last 13 years is really provide the opportunity for Afghanistan to build their own army, police and to protect itself,” the general said. “It’s because of them that Afghanistan has the opportunity for a better future.”
More than 3,400 coalition personnel from 30 countries made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands more were wounded.
Many families endured repeated separations as service members and civilians deployed.
People must look at Afghanistan in 2001 and then contrast it to what it is today, Campbell said. In 2001, the Taliban allowed about a million children to go to school. They were all boys. Today, there are 6 million Afghans in school and a third of them are girls.
There are more cars, more roads, more computers and more food. “By any measure,” Campbell said, “life is better for Afghans” because of the service of American and coalition personnel in the country.
The mission will morph at the end of this month to a NATO train, assist and advise mission. Afghans will be responsible for their own security.
And they will have more time to enjoy it too. Another statistic Campbell shared was in 2001, life expectancy in Afghanistan was 43 years old. Today, it is around 63.
“That’s over 470 million ‘life years’ that will now be lived because of the security American and coalition soldiers brought to this country,” the general said.